Thursday, May 5, 2011

Before you throw stones : Some thoughts on corruption

It's a human tendency to find someone to blame, after all we don't want to blame our self for our problems, no matter whether it is in professional or personal life. We will be happy if we find our prey, so that we can demonize him/her for all the problems - existing or going to exist!!!

What about us?

This tendency is not limited to a particular region or time; we are doing this knowingly or unknowingly in our day-to-day life. We are ready to buy pirated CDs from shops but when we see a policeman going to the same shop, every evening, to collect his cut, we are unable to digest it. You are ready bribe traffic police, to escape from a bigger penalty; but when you see the same guy asking money from lorry drivers (who are using the same highway built by spending our tax money) we can't digest it.

In the same way, we don’t have any problem in showing less income in ration cards, IT returns etc; but when we saw someone else is also doing the same, although for a much larger amount, we are crying for their heads!!! We are always concerned with child labour, but seeing under aged kids working in construction sites and sleeping in the streets may not raise anything more than an inaudible "Oh no!!!". If the same photo is coming in next day’s news paper, then we are unable to control our anger over government's attitude towards child rights.

We don't have any problem in dropping the domestic waste in the public places, during our so called morning walk (or night walk), but when we saw a meat seller doing the same, adrenaline surge will push us to the extremes.

Corruption in Politics:

Well, we have a common scapegoat for everything - a species called politicians!!! People will go to the same person to get a support letter for his kid's admission to some prestigious school, or to place his family under the poverty line. But when the same person is doing the same favour to his relative or someone else our blood temperature will reach the boiling point.

We will accuse the politicians for poor governance, corruption etc, but we easily forget that to receive bribes there should be someone to pay it. Already the process of giving and taking bribes become a tradition and now-a-days we don't feel anything wrong in it!!! Whenever we hear about a corruption scandal, the first question comes to our mind is, whether it broke the previous record or not? (after all its become very difficult to write the sums involved in corruption - How many zeros are there in 1.76 Lack?).

Cheapest may not be the best: Government tenders

May be because of this experience, whenever we are looking in to government's performance, we are more eager to find a scandal. When a public sector company is not going for the cheapest tender, the first thought coming to our mind will be, who got the money? We are no longer ready to see the technical/logical side of accepting/rejecting the tender. Simply unable to digest the fact that cheapest and best are two different words. Its another matter that, we may not be ready to buy that cheapest product for ourselves!!!!

Reservation politics:

We want quota for everything, no matter whether it is in public schools, government services or somewhere else. In order to get it we are even ready to stop the train services, blocking the roads, to vote for the people who promises it. India may be the only country in the world where people are more interested in enlisting themselves as backward community. If we are religious minority we want quota in that name, if we are linguistic minority we want quota in that category, if we are are in a different caste then we want caste based reservation and in India everyone is a minority in some way or other!!!

Religious Politics:

We can’t accept the simple fact that religion and politics are two separate entities and one should not interfere in the other. Religious belief should be limited to the personal level, its not a commodity to sell. But what happens in these days? We are ready to group together under some banner and and put forward our request for special status based on religion/caste/language/culture etc. When politicians are also engaging in the same thing we feel anger towards the people who are not supporting our quota. we are not ready to believe that they are selling this because people are ready to buy it. We put ourselves in the buyer’s market to consume these things. How many of you (of course, people who are not enjoying reservation will oppose it, but what about others?) are ready to support a politician, if he says he will stop reservation and allocating quotas?

Will the new laws make a difference?

Is this the way to go forward? Are we ready to live with this outlook forever? Activists are urging for more strict laws, but will it make any difference? Are we creating these laws just for the sake of having one? Already we have a law for everything -  I think still there is law in India according to which smoking in public place is an offence (and you know how strictly we are following it!!!). Even if US constitution is older than that of Indian counterpart, it has less number of amendments. Japan is yet to make any amendment to her constitution.

Protecting bureaucrats:

On the other side, do we really need to make all the bureaucrats vulnerable to the accusations of corruption? Even now government sector is going slower than a snail. If we are making the bureaucrats, who have to take decisions on big projects/ contracts/ defence projects etc, vulnerable to the accusations of corruption, will they be able to take the decisions in time? For each step there will be some to raise the accusation (especially during the time of intense dog fights in media world), and in critical infrastructure (e.g. defence sector) cheapest need not be the best!!! Need of the time is to strengthen the watchdogs like CVC,CBI,ED,RI,IT, departmental agencies and a political will to act on issues.


The basic thing is not about laws or acts; it’s about the way we are doing things. Are we ready to build a capitalist society, where fair laws are created by evolution? (capitalism doesn't mean oligarchy or crony capitalism) Where government’s job is to ensure justice and security? Are we ready to submit ourselves to the concepts of liberty, equality and justice?

First we have to make our self ready for this situation, and elect politicians who can deliver. We should be able to prosecute the the people who are more on bribery than politics. If we are allowing ourselves to flow aimlessly protesting here and there, without taking the cases to a logical conclusion (instead of high voltage accusations and counter accusations) then there is no doubt that you can read about the new scandal every day with your morning tea!!!


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